US Guide to 21 Great Photo Locations

No visit to the United States of America would be complete without a camera on hand to capture the amazing sights and scenery that are on offer here. While many are just looking to freeze moments in time in order to remember their holidays, others are seeking to capture a scene that words simply cannot describe, but that a photograph can explain in more than a thousand words.

So where exactly ARE the best spots to take photographs in the US while on an RV rental vacation? We’ve narrowed it down to a select 21, including only the most visually stunning of this amazing country’s destinations.

So come on a Jurnii with us as we take you to best photo locations that the remarkable United States has to offer!

1. Yellowstone National Park - Grand Prismatic Spring

As the largest hot spring in the United States, Grand Prismatic far from disappoints…and also takes a pretty fantastic photograph as well. The vivid colors of this natural wonder range from red to green and create a magnificent focal point for what is guaranteed to be a photograph you will never forget.



Location:

Yellowstone National Park, WY

Best time of day:

The Grand Prismatic Spring is best photographed on a clear day.

Specifics:

The spring discharges an estimated 560 gallons of steam per minute, which will easily fog up your camera lens.

Shoot from a distance with a wide-angle lens to best capture this scene.

2. The Grand Canyon

Spanning an impressive 277 miles long and 18 miles wide, it’s no surprise that the Grand Canyon is one of the world’s most photographed natural attractions. Boasting brilliant colors, dramatic lines and breathtaking cliff faces, the Grand Canyon is a must on any photographer’s wish list.



Location:

Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

Best time of day:

Avoid the crowds and visit in the spring. A clear, sunny day will make for idyllic photographs. Sunrise and sunset are particular favorites.

Specifics:

Contrast is going to be one of your biggest problems as one side of the canyon will be lit with bright sun, and the other will be in the dark. Therefore you will need to bracket your exposures for the mid-tones and highlights.

3. Niagara Falls

Easily the world’s most famous waterfall, Niagara Falls is a photographer’s dream with the opportunities for photos here, endless. These falls are around 790m wide and are the most powerful falls in North America.

Location:

Niagara Falls can be found on the border between Ontario and New York.

Best time of day:

Niagara Falls is so beautiful and powerful they photograph well at any time of day. However, to experience something magical, swing by at night as the lighting behind the falls will make for a dramatic shot.

Specifics:

A slow shutter speed will blur the motion of the water, but will hardly capture the sheer force of this incredible feat of Mother Nature. It is also wise to use a wide-angle lens in order to capture a substantial portion of these dramatic falls.

4. Crater Lake – Oregon

Crater Lake has inspired people for hundreds of years and it will no doubt inspire photographers from all over the world. Combining a deep, pure blue lake, with sheer surrounding cliffs, two picturesque islands and a violent volcanic past, this is a nature lover’s and photographer’s dream destination.

Location:

Crater Lake National Park, OR

Best time of day:

The best time to visit Crater Lake is from July through to September.

Try and plan your visit for a sunny day, as this will highlight the immense blue of the lake.

Specifics:

When composing your shot, ensure your mirror image is symmetrical. A few clouds in the sky are also sure to add to the dramatic feel of the landscape.

5. Yosemite National Park – Half Dome

Many photographers travel to Yosemite National Park under the inspiration of Ansel Adams, hoping to capture the natural wonders here in the same manner he did so many years ago. The scenic vistas here are incredible, with the Half Dome and Nevada Falls indisputable highlights.

Location:

Yosemite National Park, CA

Best time of day:

May and June are great times to visit the park. Night photography is also extremely popular, especially at the Half Dome at full moon. Check weather conditions beforehand.

Specifics:

Be sure to bring your wide angle lens, as the landscapes here are incredibly vivid. A tripod is also essential for night time and waterfall photography.

6. Arches National Park – Delicate Arch

The Delicate Arch is a quintessential formation of the Arches National Park and is without a doubt one of the most photographed natural wonders of the world.

Location:

Arches National Park, Moab, UT

Best time of day:

The best time of day to photograph the Delicate Arch is at sunset, when the sky adopts a red glow, creating a glorious backdrop for your photograph.

Specifics:

To get to the Delicate Arch you will need to hike for 1.5 miles. Unless experienced, leave your heavy camera gear behind as temperatures can get rather hot here.

7. Yellowstone National Park - Old Faithful Geyser

The eruptions caused by the Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park are photo moments you are going to want to capture. Getting the timing right is the hard part, but even one decent shot of these is sure to bring a smile to your face.

Location:

Yellowstone National Park, WY

Best time of day:

Find out when the geyser is going to erupt (and how high) before you head out. In the afternoon, on a glorious sunny day you are likely to capture one hell of a shot.

Specifics:

Make sure you position your camera so that there are no clouds in the background to take away from the dramatic explosion of white water. A wide-lens is also a great idea if you are looking to capture the entire scene, especially from afar.

8. Death Valley National Park – Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point is part of Death Valley’s Amargosa Range and is noted for its erosional landscape. One of the best views you will experience here is from Furnace Creek.

Location:

Death Valley National Park, CA and NV     

Best time of day:

Sunrise is without a doubt the best time of day to capture the wonder and beauty of Zabriskie Point. As the sun creeps behind the mountains the colors you will see will simply take your breath away.

Specifics:

Panoramic shots really capture this dramatic landscape best, so ensure you have a tripod in order to get correctly aligned snaps to construct a panorama. 

9. Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ride Parkway is regarded as America’s favorite drive and boasts stunning natural beauty and endless photo opportunities. Running along the famous Blue Ridge, it borders natural wonderlands like the Appalachian Mountains, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the beautiful Shenandoah National Park.



Location:

Blue Ridge Parkway, VA and NC

Best time of day:

The best time of year to visit is during the fall, when autumn colors are in bloom.

A clear sunny day is the best time to capture dramatic photographs.

Specifics:

Think about composition, particularly when taking photographs including sections of the road. A photograph with the lines of a road leading into it will lead the viewer’s eye to the main point of interest in the scene.

10. Beaver Chief Falls - Glacier National Park

Beaver Chief Falls are perfect for photographers wishing to capture a stunning waterfall shot. As the water falls it splits into two channels creating a diamond shape and hence a dramatic photographic effect. It is surrounded by stunning scenery, creating a gorgeous backdrop and depth of field for your photograph.

Location:

Glacier National Park, Montana

Best time of day:

The best time to photograph the Beaver Chief Falls is at sunrise or sunset, or on an overcast day.

Specifics:

Use a slow-shutter speed to give the water a blurred, smooth effect.

11. George Washington and Jefferson National Forest

The colors of fall photograph incredibly well and one of the best places to take advantage of this in the US is in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. Boasting incredibly beautiful fall foliage, reds, yellows and oranges are in full bloom here and are just begging to be snapped.

Location: Bastian, VA

Best time of day:

The best time of year to take dramatic foliage shots would have to be at the end of October.

Also try to avoid dark and overcast days as this can limit the brightness of your shot. The best time of day is either at sunset or sunrise.

Specifics:

Think about composition; try not to use too much empty sky in your shot and break up your photo with a fence, road etc.

12. Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument

This spectacular Grand Staircase of cliffs is ideal for those wishing to capture stunning landscapes of canyons and natural bridges. The deep red cliff faces are comprised of an immense sequence of sedimentary rock layers that create incredible lines that photographers will just love.

Location:

Kanab, UT

Best time of day:

Sunrise and sunset are fantastic times to photograph this place as the lighting of the sun on the cliff faces is extraordinarily beautiful.

Specifics:

Maximize your depth of field as this will put into perspective the immensity of this incredible natural monument.

13. Carlsbad Caverns – Lechuguilla Cave

Lechuguilla Cave is the fifth longest cave to exist in the world and is the deepest in the US. The Chandelier Ballroom is particularly visually stunning, while the stalagmites, stalactites and draperies by the pools also make for interesting shots. Access to the cave is limited and permission needs to be obtained.

Location:

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM

Best time of day:

The great thing about visiting this cave is that not matter what the weather is like outside, the conditions within the cave will remain the same.

Specifics:

Ensure you have all the right equipment with you before heading into the cave. Certain parts of the cave are quite dark, so ensure you have a good flash so that the lighting doesn’t look too artificial.

14. Freedom Trail, Boston National Historic Park

If you are a fan of photographing historic streetscapes, the Freedom Trail of the Boston National Historic Park will be a treat for you. The Faneuil Hall and Boston Skyline are particular favorites, boasting striking architecture and conspicuous angles for interesting shots. Washington Monument is also highly photographed and a must while on the Freedom Trail.

Location:

15 State Street, Boston, MA

Best time of day:

Sunset is a great time to take architectural shots, especially if you can position your camera so that the sun sets behind the building. Night time photography is also particularly stunning, with a slow shutter speed allowing you to capture plenty of light and create a vivid effect.

Specifics:

Use a fish eye or wide-angle lens to photograph buildings. This will allow you to capture more of the building’s environment.

15. Mesa Verde National Park – Cliff Palace

Geologically speaking, this is one of the most unique places to photograph in the US. As the largest cliff dwelling in North America, Cliff Palace is a dramatic landscape of stone buildings that needs to be photographed for strangers to the area to believe it.


Location:

Mesa Verde National Park, CO

Best time of day:

Sunset is a particularly beautiful time of day here as the sun’s reflection on these cliff buildings creates a warm glow that adds to its natural spectacle.

Specifics:

Two exposure shots are recommended for photographing Cliff Palace: one for highlights and one for shadows. Combine these two later in photoshop and you will have a fabulous image.

16. Zion National Park – Zion Canyon

It’s no Grand Canyon, but it still takes one hell of a photo. Located in Zion National Park, Zion Canyon boasts a spectacular cliff and canyon landscape and wilderness that is speckled with incredible natural wonders and treasures.

Location:

Zion National Park, UT

Best time of day:

Early to mid-May is a fantastic time to visit Zion Canyon in order to avoid the crowds and take uninterrupted photographs of the canyon. Winter is also visually stunning, with snow on the ground and the sun low enough to take picture-perfect photographs throughout the day.

Specifics:

Use a wide-angle lens and be sure to bring along your tripod to capture vivid landscapes.

17. Monument Valley

This region of the Colorado Plateau is home to an eerie valley of rocks that rise majestically from the red desert sands. These monumental sandstone statues are recognized across the world and create visually stunning landscape photographs.

Location:

Monument Valley, UT and AZ

Best time of day:

Undoubtedly, the best time to take impactful photographs of Monument Valley is at sunset. The lighting at this time of day is simply incredible, with the sun against the rocks creating a stunningly beautiful red that is simply unsurpassed.  

Specifics:

A tripod will be essential to your photography endeavor in Monument Valley. Waiting for the right light to hit the structures will prove a timely task so your tripod will come in very handy.

18. The Statue of Liberty – New York

This colossal neoclassical sculpture on New York’s harbor is a symbol of the American way of life and is ever popular with avid photographers visiting the city. Visited by thousands each and every day, it is easily one of America’s most famous (and photographed) monuments.

Location:

Liberty Island, New York, NY

Best time of day:

A fine, clear day is the best time to take a snap of the Statue of Liberty. Night time shots are also visually stunning.

Specifics:

Some of the best photos of the Statue of Liberty have been taken from the base looking up. This creates a dramatic and looming effect and is perfect for depicted just how monolithic this structure is.

19. Sequoia National Park – Giant Sequoias

Located in the Sierra Nevada, Sequoia National Park is famous for its giant sequoias, some of which can reach almost 95m in height. These epic-style trees take incredible photographs, and the surrounding wilderness is also bursting with dramatic landscapes, perfect for avid photographers.

Location:

Sequoia National Park, Three Rivers, CA

Best time of day:

Summer is a good time to visit for clear days, and spring is a fantastic time to take snaps of the wildflowers that come out in full bloom.

Specifics:

Some of the best photos of these giant sequoias are taken from the foot of the tree. Instead of standing back afar, this angle will allow you to capture the true immensity of the world’s largest trees.

20. The Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco

Spanning the Golden Gate, the opening to San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the world’s most photographed bridges…and with good reason. It is the longest suspension bridge in the world and truly is an architectural masterpiece.

Location:

San Francisco, CA

Best time of day:

The time of the day entirely depends on what kind of shot of the bridge you want.

If you are hoping for one with clouds and fog, the morning is probably the best time. Otherwise, just ensure you have a clear, fine day.

Specifics:

If you want a really clear shot, take it from the Marin side of the bridge.

If you are after a shot that vividly demonstrates the red of the bridge, sunset is without a doubt the best time.

21. Grand Teton National Park

The photo opportunities in Grand Teton National Park are endless, with an unending array of majestic mountains, pristine lakes, and incredibly unique wildlife on offer. The reflection of the mountains in the lakes makes for picture-perfect scenes that simply cannot be passed up.



Location:

Grand Teton National Park, WY

Best time of day:

A clear, fine day is the best time to capture stunning lake reflections. The uninterrupted skies make for vividly stunning images.

Specifics:

Oxbow Bend is a popular spot at sunrise and sunset, with the Teton Mountains creating a fabulous depth of field to your lake image.